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The Mapp Report - 3 March 2006

The Mapp Report

3 March 2006

90-Day Probation Bill Gains Support

Support for my Member’s Bill, the Employment Relations (Probationary Employment) Amendment Bill, is gaining momentum.

Business New Zealand, in its publication “Skills Perspectives”, stressed the importance of probationary periods as a critical step to help drive a competitive, growing economy.

The Government’s small business advisory group, described probationary periods as the ‘single most important change that could be made to employment legislation’, and that ‘they would lead directly and immediately to employment and business growth’. It is not surprising, therefore, that the group recommended a probationary period be introduced for all new workers.

This message is echoed by David Lowe, Employment Services Manager for EMA (Northern), who says, “the Bill would encourage employers to take a risk on employing someone they might not otherwise; it would build confidence in employing people.”

Labour will now have to deal with this issue. They can help workers and businesses by allowing the bill to go to select committee. If they refuse, they will be properly blamed for being anti-business and anti-growth.

The bill will help new workers. It will enable people who might otherwise be on the margins of the labour force to get a foot in the door. In effect, it will provide a chance for those who find getting that first job difficult, like new migrants, young people with few qualifications and people re-entering the workforce.

At the moment, many employers - especially those running smaller operations - are reluctant to take a chance and hire people for fear of facing expensive and protracted personal grievance procedures.

Ninety-day probation periods are the norm in the OECD. In Britain it is 12 months, in Australia it is three months. The OECD has said it is time for New Zealand to change the law, this would show we're serious about economic growth and enhancing employment opportunities.

This bill will be a real test for the various parties in Parliament as to whether or not they are really committed to boosting New Zealand's productivity and competitiveness, relative to Australia and other comparative countries.

This week’s example of political correctness

Has it gone too far?

A Year 9 student from Marlborough Girl’s College, a single-sex state school, sent me this week’s example of PC Madness.

According to the schools policy, students are not allowed to wear crosses that are visible when wearing the school uniform. However, it is ok to visibly wear a greenstone taonga, if it has been blessed.

I find it interesting that the school’s website says it “seeks to create an environment where every girl develops… respect for others – by encouraging respect of all cultures, beliefs and opinions as well as social relationships”.

Surely this policy shows more respect for some beliefs than others?

This is the ultimate example of political correctness gone mad!

Dr Wayne Mapp

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